Talk to many organisations about what they think constitutes digital marketing and a not uncommon response will be email campaigns. Email though is only a small, albeit vital, cog in something that should be a well thought out, well oiled lead generation and nurturing engine (I'm an engineer, I think in terms of engines!)
Contacts or 'leads' fuel your email marketing engine. If you don't feed your engine sufficient fuel then it will stall.
Let's take a step back from the email itself and look at the broader picture of how you can use email as part of a broader content marketing strategy to acquire, convert and nurture new leads.
Step 1: Build Relevancy to get Noticed
To get noticed above your competitors you need to build your digital reputation and reputation is built on knowledge. People need to know you are an expert or that 'go to' place for the product or service they are looking for. Search engines are often the middle man here. Very few people do anything these days without doing a web search first.
You need to let your prospects know that you know your stuff. This means great content in all the right places, both on your own website and through links from other reputable sites. Write with your audience in mind and your message will automatically be relevant. And after all that's what the search engines are looking for - how relevant are you to the search.
Step 2: Plan a Content Diary
Make a list of your key knowledge areas and plan a series of articles to cover the breadth of your experience. You can publish these on your own blog which will aid your search engine rankings. However, if you're just starting then publishing on a blog with no traffic and no search reputation may well mean no one gets to read your words of wisdom. Think about placing your content on other sites with larger and relevant audiences. Here are a few ideas:
- if you're a member of any professional bodies then check whether they will accept articles
- are there key industry reference sites out there that might accept content?
- use your social networks - Linked in is great for B2B and the more you publish the higher your reputation with them
- share your knowledge in specialist groups on social media - the more targetted the better.
The content will build your reputation with real people and the inbound links to your site will further improve your ranking with search engines.
Step 3: Extend a Relevant Offer
All those carefully placed articles are working, you're being noticed. Your own site is getting more visitors . But how do you get those visitors to become warm leads?
The people that arrive at your site are unlikely to look around much - everyone is busy these days! You have one shot to grab their attention and get them to tell you who they are. They will only tell you if you offer them something in return. Here are a few ideas you can consider:
- A discount on new business - can you afford a 10% discount?
- A free consultation
- Some valuable content they have to register to download - something more indepth that your average blog article
Whatever it is make sure it is worth their effort. And make it easy - a simple landing page that states the offer with a short form to capture email addresses and a few other details.
Step 4: Engage Your Audience
Great, your database is growing with good quality leads and you have their email address. Make sure you stay in touch. If you write an interesting, relevant article then email your contacts. If you enhance your product tell them. If you're running a seminar make sure they are invited.
Each time they take the time to read your emails or visit your site they are becoming more familiar with you and what you offer.
Step 5: Segment Your Visitors
In a very simple scenario you have a single email list and you send all that interesting content to all your contacts. You can increase the relevancy of your emails by segmenting your list.
Some information you can know automatically. Although you only asked for their email address what they gave you was an email address and an IP address. The IP address gives you a country - information! So already you can segment your lists geographically.
Other information you need to tease from them. There are a number of strategies here.
Firstly you can glean information about them implicitly from their behaviour. One strategy is to send an email covering a couple of topics with links to full articles. Depending on the links they click on you can narrow down their interests. A very simple example I often use is a charity. They have various communities of interest: people that might volunteer; those that might raise funds; sponsors; friends.
Or you can simply ask your contacts. Be bold and ask them who they work for, what their job is, where they are. Whatever you think you'd find most useful. Another offer here can help encourage people to give you more information to help further refine your marketing strategy.
Step 6: Don't Neglect the Stragglers!
As well as people that are becoming more engaged spend some time looking at people that were interested and have gone quiet. They were opening your emails but have started to ignore them. Know who they are and make them an offer. If they have already used another supplier then nothing lost. If they haven't then it might remind them you exist. Some people just take a long time to make a decision and others simply get distracted by a busy life.
Step 7: Rinse and Repeat!
Building your marketing engine takes time and should be continually refined. It it were as simple as pressing a button then everyone could do it and there'd be no value. Key individuals in your organisation need to be engaged and suitably trained. You'll need to dedicate time and energy to creating a process that works for your business and support that process by maintaining a flow of good quality content on as many key sites as possible, as well as your own.
If you'd like to know how the right marketing automation software can help you build your digital marketing machine then we'd love to show you!